AN OUTRAGED mum’s furious courtroom outburst over her son’s driving ban ended with her being sent to the cells.
District Judge Wright told 50-year-old Deborah Stean that she had “wilfully insulted me and the court”.
Stean’s son, Russell McOwen, 25, of North Street, St Columb Major, was disqualified from driving for 56 days by the district judge on Thursday after being found guilty of jumping a red warning light at Lostwithiel level crossing.
During a trial at Bodmin Magistrates’ Court, District Judge Wright announced that McOwen would be banned for what she described as an “extremely dangerous” offence.
But Mrs Stean, who had accompanied her son to court, shouted and swore from the back of the courtroom, saying the ban would mean McOwen would not be able to see his young son, who lives in Lostwithiel.
District Judge Wright ordered that Stean, also of North Street, be detained immediately in the cells until she was prepared to apologise.
Half an hour later, having spoken to a solicitor, Stean was returned to the dock and said sorry. She had admitted being in contempt of court but the offence was later discharged and the judge let her go without a penalty because of her apology.
McOwen had pleaded not guilty to failing to comply with a stop sign, maintaining that he had been playing football in Padstow on the day of the alleged offence and could not have reached Lostwithiel in time to commit the crime.
Signalman Craig Munday told the court that on Saturday, February 16, he had been working in the signal box when he activated the amber and then red signals to lower the barrier as a train was approaching from Bodmin Parkway station.
“A black car raced across the crossing just as the barrier was about to descend – it made no attempt to stop,” said Mr Munday.
He took down the registration and reported the incident to police at 4.51pm. A note was also made in the train register logbook for that day.
Andrew Greening, the local rail operations manager, who was also in the signalbox that day, said he too had seen the black hatchback – a Golf – “accelerate and pass over the crossing just as the barriers were about to fall”.
Checks made later confirmed that all the lights and signage at the crossing were working correctly.
McOwen, a carpet fitter, said his football match would not have finished until around 4.30pm at the earliest, leaving him insufficient time to get to Lostwithiel by 4.51pm.
The court was told that in his police interview on May 3, McOwen had said that there had been an occasion – not on the 16th - when he had crossed the crossing and the lights changed but he couldn’t do anything about it as he would have caused an accident if he stopped.
District Judge Wright said that both Mr Munday and Mr Greening had given truthful evidence and she did not believe McOwen’s account.
“The defendant has no evidence [in court] that he was playing football until 4.30pm – it’s either not true or he left early or he must have driven so quickly that he got there at that time [4.51pm].”
She went on, addressing McOwen: “What you did was extremely dangerous, you could have killed yourself and others.”
As well as being banned from driving, McOwen was fined £336 with £200 costs and a £33 victim surcharge.